US Lawmakers Voice Opposition to China’s Appointment to UN Human Rights Council Panel

US Lawmakers Voice Opposition to China’s Appointment to UN Human Rights Council Panel
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres looks on during the opening of the UN Human Rights Council's main annual session in Geneva on Feb. 24, 2020. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)
Frank Fang

Seven GOP senators have drafted a joint letter to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, voicing opposition to the appointment of a Chinese minister to a panel at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

“China should not occupy a position of prestige or influence on the U.N. Human Rights Council while it engages in human rights violations of the worst kind both at home and abroad,” the senators wrote in a letter dated April 6.
Jiang Duan, minister of China’s mission in Geneva, was appointed to be the Asia-Pacific representative of the five-nation panel Consultative Group of UNHRC on April 1. The group vets candidates for different U.N. human rights posts.

“In this position, Jiang will provide China with the opportunity to play a central role in picking at least 17 human rights investigators, including those who look at freedom of speech, enforced disappearance, and arbitrary detention—rights abuses which the Chinese regime routinely perpetrates,” the senators warned.

The letter was signed by John Cornyn (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.).


The senators pointed to Beijing’s deception regarding the initial outbreak of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, as one reason why China was not qualified to hold a position on the panel.

“Through intimidation of its medical first responders, censorship of online forums, and threats of severe punishment for anyone who dared to speak out with the truth, the Chinese Communist Party engaged in its most egregious human rights abuse: the unchecked spread of a new and dangerous virus on an unwitting global population,” the senators wrote.

What has become the hallmark of Beijing’s initial coverup was China’s decision to silence eight doctors, among them ophthalmologist Li Wenliang, after they posted on Chinese social media about a new form of pneumonia that was spreading in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Li was summoned to a local police station for “rumor-mongering” and forced to sign a “confession” statement in early January. Li died the following month after contracting the CCP virus while unknowingly treating an infected patient.

The senators added: “Even now, China withholds critical information about the spread and death toll of the virus and continues to silence and intimidate its critics.”

Some China experts have questioned China’s claim of having zero new cases in the country.
The true death toll is also likely higher than what China is officially reporting, according to an Epoch Times analysis of the drastic increase in the number of Chinese cellphone accounts canceled in the past three months.

Human Rights Abuses

The letter also pointed to China’s long-term human rights abuses, including of Uyghur ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, where more than a million are incarcerated against their will.

The senators called on Guterres to take action against Duan’s appointment.

“We implore you to intervene on behalf of our shared values of freedom and dignity by suspending Jiang's appointment to the UN Human Rights Council Consultative Group,” the senators wrote.

In 2018, the United States withdrew from the 47-nation UNHRC, with then-U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley calling the council “a protector of human rights abuses, and a cesspool of political bias.”

These six senators are not the only U.S. lawmakers to voice opposition. On April 5, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) called Duan’s appointment “appalling and ironic,” given China’s coverup of the current epidemic and its poor human rights record, according to a statement from his office.

Smith called out China for its systematic abuses against religious and ethnic minorities, including Tibetan Buddhists and Falun Gong adherents. Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual practice that involves meditation and moral teachings based on truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.

The Chinese regime has severely persecuted adherents of Falun Gong since 1999, with hundreds of thousands of adherents detained in prisons, labor camps, and brainwashing centers, according to the Falun Dafa Information Center.

In addition, “there is a growing body of evidence that the Chinese government harvests the organs of political prisoners, providing organs on order for those willing to pay a blood price,” Smith added.

The China Tribunal, a London-based independent people’s tribunal, found “direct and indirect evidence of forced organ harvesting” against prisoners of conscience in China, primarily from adherents of Falun Gong.

Smith said that “there is no justification whatsoever in empowering a Chinese government official,” and called for an investigation into “Chinese influence at the World Health Organization and other U.N. bodies.”

He also urged Congress to pass H.R. 1811, a bill he introduced last year, which stipulates that the U.S. government draft a yearly report on Chinese political influence operations and require Chinese-funded entities to be registered with federal authorities.
Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers U.S., China, and Taiwan news. He holds a master's degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.